In the 1950s, the U.S. military experimented with alternative feeding devices for machine guns. During these trials, researchers discovered that a triangular cartridge case, when stacked into a magazine, took up almost 50 percent less space than a traditional round casing. Despite their findings, the military never expanded or pursued the unusual design.
Later that same decade, inventor David Dardick adopted the triangular design and founded the Dardick Corporation in Hamden, Connecticut. His new design featured a combination of a hybrid revolver and a magazine-fed pistol. Depending on the model, the open-chambered firearms boasted a magazine that held 10 (Model 1100), 11 and 15 (Model 1500) or 20 (Model 2000) triangular cartridges, called "trounds" -- triangular rounds. Unlike removable magazines from many contemporary firearms, the Dardick's magazine was internal and fixed, fed through a door on the left-hand side of the revolver.
The Model 1100 was only available in the .38 Dardick Tround chambering. The Model 1500 came with interchangeable barrels, chambered in .38, .30 and .22 trounds in either 4 or 6-inch barrels.
The revolving cylinder had three V-shaped channels spaced evenly in the cylinder. The "V's" two sides comprised the sides of the chamber, and the revolver's topstrap had a metal plate that completed the third side of the chamber. The magazine fed the cartridge into the chamber at the 7 o'clock position, which rotates into the 12 o'clock position to fire. Upon firing, it then rotates to the 3 o'clock position, where the empty "tround" cartridge falls out of the cylinder through an open in the revolver's frame.
The Dardick revolver's barrel was easily removable, held to the frame by two cams that were rotated by a screw located in the front of the frame beneath the barrel. A half-turn on the cam screw allows the barrel to be removed for cleaning, maintenance, replacement or even for facilitating a caliber change.
The casings were made of an extruded plastic, Celanee Fortiflex, and the rounds featured a metal primer pocket, primer, powder and a .38-caliber projectile. A .22 Long Rifle casing and barrel were also available. The .22 casing accepted a standard .22LR cartridge inserted into its center, and a switch on the hammer enabled rimfire mode when the .22LR barrel was installed.
A carbine conversion kit was produced for the Dardick, which consisted of a wood buttstock attached to a carrier which the entire pistol, minus the barrel, inserted into. The carbine barrel was then inserted into the frame and locked into place using the aforementioned barrel cam screw. Additionally, several trounds were made as chamber adapter which held standard cartridges, including the .38 Special, allowing readily available ammunition to be used in the guns.
Dardick received patent 2,847,784 in August 1958 for the revolver, and patent number 2,865,126 for the "tround" later that year. The firearms were manufactured from 1958 to 1962, with fewer than 100 revolvers produced.
Despite the revolutionary design of the round and the firearm, the ultimate demise of the Dardick was due to its unfortunate aesthetics -- it was ugly. Also, the plastic cartridges warped over time and would not chamber properly, resulting in the cylinder locking up when it rotated.
Though rare, the NRA National Firearms Museum has a Dardick 1500 in its collection, featuring the carbine conversion kit along with the revolver. While the full potential of the design was never realized due to its garish looks and issues with ammunition, the Dardick represents "outside the box" thinking in developing firearms, and is a strange yet intriguing mile marker on the journey of the evolution of the gun in America.
Check out this clip from NRA Gun Gurus as host and Senior Curator of NRA Musuems Phil Schreier discusses the unique features of the Dardick pistol:
Editor's Note: Jason J. Brown contributed to this article, originally published by Ernest Lyles for the Virginia Gun Collector's Association.